The Panic Channel

(One)

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(One) Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Love 'em or hate 'em, there's no denying that Jane's Addiction were one of the pivotal bands of the alt-rock revolution of the early '90s. They were one of the first to pull metal and underground rock fans together, first with their 1988 major-label debut, Nothing's Shocking, and then as the creators and headliners for the first Lollapalooza tour. They came to define much of the sound and style of alternative rock in the '90s, so it comes as a great shock that the Panic Channel -- featuring Dave Navarro and Stephen Perkins, the guitarist and drummer for Jane's, plus Chris Chaney, who took over for original Jane's bassist Eric Avery when the group reunited in 2003 -- sounds utterly generic on their 2006 debut, (One). Fronted by vocalist Steve Isaacs, who has spent time as an MTV VJ as well as some time on the stage, the Panic Channel sound like countless faceless groups that followed in the wake of grunge. For all the world, (One) sounds as if it could have been released in 1996 when MTV and the airwaves were inundated with bands that took the dour, heavy sound of grunge, cleaned it up, gave it a touch of classic rock formalism, and then coasted by on tattoos and piercings instead of hooks or melodies or even angst. Not that this is horrible music -- Isaacs may be a cipher as a frontman (so much so, it's a wonder that the second season of Rock Star wasn't a search to find a singer for the Panic Channel), but Navarro, Perkins, and Chaney are coolly professional, so they always sound nothing less than a competent Foo Fighters cover band -- but it is never distinctive. The weirdest thing about (One) isn't that it sounds generic but that it sounds generic according to the standards of 1996, not 2006. For those listeners who pine for a world when Seven Mary Three received heavy rotation, this will satisfy, but anybody expecting the spark of Jane's Addiction or even a dose of Navarro's campy on-camera charm will be sorely disappointed.

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